Signs of rats at 14 food joints in Marina Square

Traces of rodent activity have been found in 14 food and beverage (F&B) outlets at Marina Square.

On Jan 9, a customer found a rat carcass in a salted vegetable dish at Hotpot Culture restaurant, which is located in the mall. She made a report to the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the restaurant has been under investigation since.

NEA conducted two rounds of inspections of the surrounding F&B outlets and stalls soon after the incident, evening daily Lianhe Wanbao said yesterday.

Its officers found rat activity in the false ceilings of 14 F&B outlets, as well as at a garbage collection point in the mall.

Rodent activity refers to the discovery of rat droppings or prints, which suggest the presence of rats.

NEA said enforcement action will be taken against three premises: one where rat droppings were found and another two which were found to be dirty, reported The Straits Times.

The rest were cautioned to ensure proper housekeeping, food storage and waste management, an NEA spokesman said.

An advisory on pest prevention and control measures was also distributed to the store operators.

The management of Marina Square has intensified pest control measures and sealed off the related false ceilings in order to prevent entry to rats.

It is not the first time Marina Square has come under the spotlight for rodent activities. In September, NEA received feedback from one of its tenants regarding a rodent sighted in his food shop.

A thorough inspection in October, which covered 77 licensed food shops and food stalls in the mall, resulted in enforcement action being taken against 12 stores with evidence of rodent activity and four food premises with food scraps on the floor.

NEA said it will continue to monitor the situation.

Meanwhile, Hotpot Culture is finding it difficult to recover its losses from ceasing operations for three weeks.

Its owner, Lim Choon Kok, told Wanbao: "We are not opening for operations yet, but the NEA says we should be able to, soon."

It is understood that Hotpot Culture has a daily turnover of about $4,000, so to lose three weeks' worth of revenue would be a heavy blow for the eatery.

In a conciliatory act, Hotpot Culture will be holding a free open-house buffet to customers once it gets clearance from NEA to resume operations.

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